Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: A Favorite Series

If you've visited here with Tutu before, you know that I LOVE a good mystery series. I'm always looking for new ones, while trying to keep up with my favorites. Because so many of these are also available in audio (my favorite format), I find them easy to 'read' while I'm going about my increasingly busy days. I also find them relaxing in the evening, when I don't want to concentrate on a heavier book. This past week, while I was swimming, sewing, and traveling to an out of town library workshop, the audios were a godsend. I continued on with one of my favorites.

Acqua Alta

Alternate Title: Death in High Water
Donna Leon
8 hrs, 30 min; 288 page equivalent;
Guido Brunetti
stolen art objects; murder
Commissario Brunetti (#5)
Police procedural
Public library

I've been reading or listening to various books in this series for almost two years now.  I decided to go back and read them in order to watch Leon's progress as a writer, and Brunetti's development as a character.  These stories don't disappoint even at the beginning.  (I've yet to get to the very first one).  Brunetti and his wife Paola (a college English professor) are urbane, educated, sophisticated and have inherited wealth. Their enjoyment of literature, good wine, travel, and opera adds a degree of sophistication one doesn't always find in the ordinary gumshoe series.  At the same time, Brunetti has to deal with an pompous 'if it's not my idea it won't work' boss who wants to know everything, take credit for everything good and who disavows anything that goes wrong;  two teen-aged off-spring (who needs to say more?)  and the Italian criminal justice system, which does not always work the way the ethical Brunetti would like it too. Guido is too much the practical Italian though to let little things like disregard for the law get in his way.

This episode concerns a ring of antiques dealers/museum curators who are not happy when their theft of precious art objects and substitution of fakes is discovered by an American professor.  The subsequent crime spree that follows as they try to rid themselves of witnesses and evidence is set against the background of the "Acqua Alta"--a periodic Venetian weather phenomenon that occurs when the rains and winds combine with high tides to produce floods of various heights, making getting around the city difficult if not impossible.

As she tells the story, Leon weaves into the plot the antipathy of Venetians for southern Italians, the homophobia of Italian males towards two of the women in the story, and every parent's fears of discovering a teenager who may be engaging in unhealthy/illegal activity.  Nothing more to say---I don't want to spoil it.

If you've always wanted to visit Venice, if you love sophisticated protagonists and a good mystery, this is a must read series for you.


  1. Looks like a good armchair travel to Venice, plus a mystery.

  2. see, this is why I am going to have to stop reading your reviews...I do not have any time to take on any more good mystery series...NO MORE!



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